Tunisia Looks to Next Steps in Transition: Interview with Habib Nassar


[[{"fid":983,"view_mode":"media_medium","attributes":{"title":"\u0022Long live liberty\u0022: graffiti in Tunis after the fall of President Ben Ali. By Habib Nassar for ICTJ, February 2011.","class":"format-media_medium align-right"}}]]Since President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali left power after a wave of protests in Tunisia on Jan. 14, 2011, the interim government and civil society actors have been debating strategies for justice and accountability.

Habib Nassar, director of ICTJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program, traveled to Tunis last week to bring the organization’s expertise to the discussion on how such a strategy might be shaped. On his return to New York, he shared what he learned in this podcast interview.

Listen to the Podcast

[Download](/sites/default/files/ICTJ-Tunisia-Transition-Nassar-Podcast-02-10-2011.mp3) | Duration: 8mins | File size: 4.5MB

“When I was there before the revolution it was almost impossible to move around Tunis and meet civil society activists without being constantly followed by the political police,” Nassar recalled. “Human rights defenders were persistently harassed and intimidated. The use of torture, arbitrary detention, and other sorts of abuse was pervasive…What I saw this time was Tunisians breathing freedom.”

Nassar clarifies that ICTJ’s role in Tunisia is to share a broad range of expertise shaped in related political transformations in many different countries. Ultimately the organization seeks to support a domestic approach to the transition.

“We are right now in the phase of assessing what the needs of Tunisians are, what their expectations are, what their plans are. At the end, it’s up to the Tunisians themselves to devise the right transitional justice strategy for their country.”